Plurk seems to be all the rage in the social media space of late. While Stii’s reaction was positive initially, mine was negative as I hate the clutter of the timeline. Though a few days later, I can say without a doubt it has advantages over Twitter and I am willing to put up with the clutter.
The fact that you can have threaded conversations sticks out the most. As an example, after going through a recent speech of Obama’s I posted my feelings on Plurk. The post resulted in a discussion with 64 responses. The discussion would die down, and then start up again after a few hours. That could never have been done on Twitter, the conversations you have on Twitter usually last between one and four tweets and then die down. The second feature that sets it apart from Twitter and other Twitter clones (Pownce etc.), are the notifications.
With a simple click on ‘view responses’, you can see which Plurks have new comments and you can choose to respond. This feature is great since it allows the conversation to continue. Contrast that to Twitter: if you log-off from Twitter, and come back you miss most of the posts while you have been away. In order to catch up you would either need to page downor visit people’s individual profiles. Now how often do you really do that? With this notification feature I have gotten responses to my posts several hours later. These two features coupled together are what make Plurk a winner. Add that to the fact that you can embed images and videos without having to select a post-type makes it much more appealing.
Though what is more interesting about Plurk, is the adoption and the responses to it from early adopters. For example, the poster child for early adopters Scobleizer response is largely negative. The story was picked up by Read Write Web, but has not even reached Techcrunch (As off the date of this post). I find this strange considering that according to Alexa Plurk’s traffic has been been higher then Pownce for the last three months. What is even more strange is this: I got an invite from a Facebook friend who does not have a twitter account and is not a tech geek, and this led me to post this question After almost a year on Twitter I have yet to get an invite from someone who is not a tech geek/early adopter. Someone also pointed me to this post, where it seems with the onslaught of Twitter users and ‘early adopters’ its driving the actual early users of Plurk to signup for twitter accounts.
Now, since most of my friends are not early adopters/tech geeks when I start receiving invites for a service from them it’s a good indication for me that a service is going mainstream, as it did with Facebook. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying Plurk is going mainstream just yet, but I do think it has a better chance, and is specifically catering for more of the teen crowd.
The mistake early adopters make is assuming that what appeals to them will appeal to everyone else and that early adopters are a clearly defined group and the same people all the time. The reality of it is, people will gravitate to services that provide meaningful value, solve problems they face and that they identify with (user interface). An early adopter for one market segment/service may be part of the late majority for another. Just take a look at the list of interesting people on Plurk, some of whom have had accounts since January and are not what you would clearly define as Early adopters.
Plurk is not Twitter and it caters for an entirely different market. To use an analogy Twitter is like Linux, you can pretty much do anything the hell you want with it. Plurk is like Mac, sexy interface catering for a specific market.
Put in another way, products that are designed for a specific group or type of early adopters (scobleizer etc. etc.) may not appeal to the mainstream and you could design a product that appeals to an entirely different audience of early adopters (those that are not tech geeks) and still gain traction.
The real question for me though is, how much longer can I take the dancing bananas?